I've been thinking.....(as Richard Prebble is reputed to have said) and here is the product of my reflections:
Inspired by a recent stuff article based on a Uni of Auckland Education lecturer, John McCaffery's research into bilingual education, through a case-study of Richmond Road School, I was reflecting on the feasibility/desirability of setting up similar bilingual units in other primary schools around the country. It would necessarily involve only small numbers of students but it might answer a need/ be an interesting enquiry project/ promote sustainable, effective language learning/ be a basis for research into the value of bi-lingualism in cognitive development.
Why would I like to be involved in this process?
- It seems to me a worthwhile goal, relevant to my aim of encouraging students to share my passion for speaking other languages and experiencing other cultures.
- It would be a parallel structure rather than something that competes with any existing structures and initiatives.
- I feel I have a lot of expertise that would be valuable to such an initiative.
- I have doubts, as does John McCaffery, that the current regime is the most effective way to learn languages.
- Having taught primary students languages last year, I can see how rapidly they soak it up, even with relatively little time spent on it, and how enthusiastic and uninhibited they are about communicating.
- The primary level is undoubtedly when students are most receptive to learning languages (other than pre-school)
- The language required to teach other subjects in the Target Language is no doubt less complex at junior level than it would be at senior
- At last one would be free of the constraints of having to groom prospective NCEA candidates.
- Cohorts would be together all day, so it would be easier to be flexible about scheduling.
Am I being totally unrealistic to imagine that one might get something like this off the ground?
Even since I photographed this mind-map just now, I've added new things to it. Such as:
- should one target public or private education?
- Should it be restricted, as I think Richmond Road is, to families that have a TL speaking parent who can support their child's learning.? (which defeats the purpose of making it accessible to a wider public)
- Could one conceivably think of offering parallel classes to parents of students in bi-lingual classes to help them support the learning?
- Could one imagine incorporating virtual classes to make smaller units more viable and reduce costs?
What do you reckon? Am I being pie in the sky? It's a bit more challenging and interactive than sitting at my computer translating, although I'm still working on that idea too. I'm off to sit the C2 in AK on 3 May. Will I be 'à la hauteur'? It'll depend on the subject matter and my ability to process the info super quickly. Never my forte..... On verra.